CONTROVERSIAL LINCOLN HOTEL POOL PLAN GOES TO FULL PLANNING COMMITTEE

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The controversial plan of developer Andrew Long to build a spa and swimming pool in the Grade 2 listed White Hart hotel in Bailgate Lincoln, removing layers of nationally important archaeology, is to go to a full meeting of the City of Lincoln Council planning committee a senior council planning officer has confirmed.

There had been fears that the planning application could be decided behind closed doors after the council’s planning officers and City Archaeologist appeared to have embarked on extensive pre-planning consultations with the developer, where the assumption appeared to be that the planning application would go ahead without additional scrutiny.

This was of concern to many in the wider archaeological community because, while legal, critics of Mr Long’s development argued that a decision made without being fully tested in the planning process could have significant adverse consequences for the ability of other local authorities and heritage bodies to protect the UK’s most important and sensitive
archaeological sites.

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A particularly concern is documents submitted as part of the planning application acknowledged that archaeology at the White Hart site was of national importance, but then argued that its loss was acceptable, even though the benchmark in the National Planning Policy Framework is that the loss of such archaeology was justifiable only in “wholly exceptional” circumstances.

In its formal submission to the council consultation regarding the plan the Council for British Archaeology described the public benefits of the White Hart project as
being from nil to negligible.

However, in spite of the concerns regarding the implications for heritage protection if the pool project does get the green light, the statutory heritage advisor Historic England has so far declined to get involved.

Nonetheless, with fifty one responses to the formal consultation over White Hart application, forty six of them objections, the council has decided that the application must now be decided by the full planning committee.

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Asked by thePipeLine whether Historic England would now be asked to comment, and whether given the wider concerns about the application of the official guidance, the application would go before the City’s planning committee, Kieron Manning, Assistant Director for Planning at City of Lincoln Council, said:

“As this is a live planning application it would not be appropriate for us to comment until a formal decision is reached.

The application will be determined by our Planning Committee later this year and all national and local planning policy and guidance will be fully considered by the council’s officers in making their recommendation to committee.”

It has been noted that Mr Manning’s comment that national and local planning guidance “will be fully considered” by officers, rather than have been considered, suggests that whether or not Mr Long’s planning application is compliant with the National Planning Policy Framework and the Lincoln local plan could now be back on the table.

It is central to the objections to the application from the Council for British Archaeology and other archaeologists that paragraphs in the local plan and in the National Planning Policy Framework, have not been properly applied.

Meanwhile, Dr Samantha Stein, who has done much to bring the Lincoln case to the wider archaeological community, welcomed the confirmation that the White Hart
application would now be decided in a public forum.

Dr Stein told thePipeLine,

“I am so pleased that standing up and sharing this case has initiated a wider community of people, including the Council for British Archaeology, to weigh in.”

adding the caution,

“But the fight is not over yet. We need to keep making our voices heard, in Lincoln, and across the country.
We cannot allow our heritage to be destroyed without expert knowledge or public input.”

Dr Stein concluded,

“I do hope this application is withdrawn or rejected as proposed by the CBA, and I look forward to hearing further developments.”

A date for the planning committee to hear the White Hart planning application has not yet been announced.

 

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